For celebrity spotters the London Boat Show took a while to get going.

For celebrity spotters the London Boat Show took a while to get going. After Alan Titchmarsh’s speech at the Nautical Awards dinner two press officers on the BMIF press table were comparing notes over coffee. “Who did we have in today?” said one. “What, apart from Nigel Mansell?” “Obviously.” “Erm… Peter Stringfellow. And, ooh, round glasses, Tory, whatsisname – Peter Bottomley!” There followed a long pause.

To be fair, at that point in the show David Ginola, an improbably famous French footballer (apparently) with long hair and a shampoo contract, had yet to make his appearance on the Princess stand, and I had still to record my own rather esoteric sighting, the actor Keith Allen, who I’d last seen throwing things about in Fred’s bar some ten years ago.

A-list, B-list or also-rans, they were all there for the same reasons as the rest of us. It’s a new year, the days are lengthening, and the new season is just around the corner. The London show (p71) remains one of the best places in the world for admiring the extraordinary glossiness of new boats and wondering why it is that in real life they never again look that shiny (it’s the spotlights) or that big (they shrink as soon as you put them in the water). And if you’re seriously in the market for a new boat you won’t find a warmer welcome anywhere (it’s the Guinness). Of course, London in January isn’t everyone’s pint of stout. In case you find yourself able to resist the charms of a grey northern capital in the depths of winter we’ve also brought you Fort Lauderdale (p22), where the weather might be better, and Holland (p84), where it might not.